- Monday, 13 May 2019
- Written by AVERY POWERS
Fayetteville’s 4th Fridays are a community tradition. On the 4th Friday of every month, people of all ages are welcome to enjoy a night on the town — downtown that is — with free entertainment that differs from one month to the next. Fayetteville’s historical district meets modern art with May’s theme: Art Attack. The event takes place May 24 from 6-10 p.m.
“We’ll have live art up and down the street, from Hay Street to Person Street and the side streets,” said Johanna Brum, the event co-chair for this month’s 4th Friday.
Instead of only selling previously made art, local artists will paint and dance and sculpt in front of a live audience. “Dancers (will be) out on the street; we’ll have body painters out. It’s the first time we’ve done it,” said Brum. To broaden audience appeal, Art Attack will be more PG-13 than kid-oriented, so a Kids Corner will be set up by Greg’s Pottery on Maxwell Street. It will feature face-painting, balloon animals and other activities.
Downtown businesses are getting involved with 4th Friday a little differently this month. “They’re actually going to sponsor the artists,” said Brum. “It’ll be free for almost all of the artists.” The businesses will support the artists one-on-one, and each artist will set up shop in front of his or her respective store sponsor.
Systel will sponsor Second Time Around, an old-fashioned swing band featured on Jazz Juice Radio. “Fifteen people with horns and all kinds of instruments (play) swing music from the ’40s, and they cover more contemporary music,” said Jane Casto, Headquarters manager at Cumberland County Public Library. “They have been coming for several years — it’s kind of a tradition.” Refreshments will be available.
The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County will play an important role in the event as well. According to Christina Williams, marketing specialist at the Arts Council, 4th Friday attendees can expect an exciting display for the evening. “We will be opening our ‘Public Works’ exhibit, which is traditionally our largest exhibition of the year,” said Williams. This exhibition is open to artists of any age and skill level in Cumberland County and the surrounding areas. The Parsons, a local folk band, will perform outside the Arts Council building, and Fayetteville PWC will be inside handing out free conservation goodies.
Art Attack is a large-scale version of a weekly event hosted by Shawn Adkins at The Rock Shop. It is designed to unite all types of artists, from photographers to tattoo artists, with one platform. Adkins is now the owner of Back-A-Round Records downtown.
For more information about 4th Friday, visit www.theartscouncil.com or call the Cool Spring Downtown District at 910-223-1089.
- Tuesday, 07 May 2019
- Written by STEPHANIE CRIDER
In the 1950s, Memphis, Tennessee, was subject to Jim Crow laws and segregation. R&B and rock ’n’ roll played to two distinctly different crowds — until DJ Dewy Philips changed things. Take a journey with Cape Fear Regional Theatre to “Memphis,” where rock ’n’ roll was born. The show runs May 9-26.
“Memphis” is inspired by reallife events and people. According to director Suzanne Agins, the central character is a white DJ, named Huey Calhoun in the play, who makes it his mission to expose his white audience to the blues. He is played by Matthew Mucha and is based on real-life DJ Dewy Philips. The story is about his drive to expand people’s minds about music and his relationship with African American blues singer Felicia Farrell, a character who is not based on a real-life counterpart. “It is all this great R&B and early rock ’n’ roll coming from the African American community, and this guy who made it his life’s work to get it out to whites,” said Agins.
When she started thinking about how to tell the story best, Agins, who also directed “Dreamgirls” at CFRT in 2017, reached back to her previous experience in Fayetteville. “I was here for ‘Dreamgirls,’ and it was an amazing thing to be surround by amazing women,” she said.
Agins noticed that Felicia, played by Shonica Gooden, didn’t have strong female characters to relate to in the story. “I thought about the main character and wondered why she didn’t have a friend to talk to,” said Agins. “I looked at (the character of ) her brother and thought there is nothing about this (character) that is inherently male. It is a human who cares deeply for his sister.
“We asked the licensing company if we could change this to a female character and made our case. … We cast an amazing actress, and she is killing it.” The script didn’t change, just the gender of one character.
Gooden didn’t know the role of her character’s brother was going to change to that of a sister, but she’s embraced it. “I think it has made it better,” she said. “We brought that sisterly bond into the story, making it that much more authentic onstage.”
CFRT Marketing Director Ashley Owen noted that the story covers an important topic — race. “It delves into the relationship between white and black people in that time,” she said. “The message is one of loving people when you come together and experience something special. It is an important story to tell, and we work hard to do it well, if for no other reason than for people to be able to talk about the message.”
David Robbins plays Bobby Dupree, Huey’s best friend. For him, the music adds to an already meaty performance. “‘Memphis’ won best score for the year it came out,” he said. “You will be leaving the theater humming the tunes.”
Ricardo Morgan is a Fayetteville native and no stranger to the CFRT stage. “Member of the Wedding,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Sweeney Todd” and “Trip to Bountiful” are a few of the shows he’s performed in. Morgan is in the ensemble. “Given the theme of the show and climate of our nation, this is another opportunity for the arts to help heal,” he said. “And in doing so, we talk about preconceptions. You will leave singing, but you will also leave having asked yourself questions. Questions we ask daily come to life onstage — it is about a sense of community and supporting each other.” Due to the content, the show is rated PG-13.
The play runs May 9-26. Visit www.cfrt.org for tickets and information. Look for theme nights and special events, including Red Carpet Ready, Opening Night Dance Party, Mimosa Brunch and Military Night, on the website.
Photo: Matthew Mucha as Huey Calhoun (left) and Shonica Gooden as Felicia Farrell (right)